Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather – I Understand

There has been a lot of talk about Walter Cronkite’s CNN interview and his answer to questions about Dan Rather.

“Although Dan did a fine job, I would have liked to have seen (Schieffer) there a long time ago,” Cronkite said during an interview on CNN. “He would have given the others a real run for their money.”

“It surprised quite a few people at CBS and elsewhere that, without being able to pull up the ratings beyond third in a three-man field, that they tolerated his being there for so long,” he told CNN.

You might expect Cronkite, still a member of the CBS board, to be a little more charitable… be more of a team player. I didn’t. In fact, I am surprised this kind of talk didn’t happen earlier.

Thinking back, my recollection is Dan Rather putting on the pressure and forcing CBS to move Cronkite out. Roger Mudd, who was passed over in this bloodless coup, bolted and went to NBC.

From Mike Straka on

According to the late ABC News and Sports president Roone Arledge’s autobiography “Roone: A Memoir,” Rather used ABC as a negotiating chip to force CBS’s hand to install him as the anchor of CBS Evening News six months earlier than Cronkite had planned to retire. This was at a time when Cronkite was considered the most trusted man in America.

What’s the old line? Be nice to the people you meet on the way up. They’re the same people you’ll meet on the way down.

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